A quick history of Occupy Worcester

posted by Mike on October 3rd, 2012

On October 2, 2011, we pretended to kick off Occupy Worcester on the 508 show by having a public “mic check” at Cooks Pond. Actual organizing meetings began happening that week.

The first real Occupy Worcester event was on October 8 on the Common. This was organized outside the meetings. The first fruit of the meetings was a General Assembly on the Common October 9, 2011. I counted 190 people gathered to talk about our challenges as a society and how to come to grips with them.

There were occasional protests and marches. On October 15, I counted 109 people marching down Main Street as part of a “day of solidarity.” They ended up on the Common for the third GA.

Occupy Worcester was divided on attempting an occupation in Worcester. But by October 16 there was enough interest that a group tried to occupy the Common. After warnings from police, they moved to Lake Park, and camped in a state picnic area.

A group of Clark University students began an encampment on campus, until an early snowstorm knocked tree branches onto their tents, and they were told to stop.

After 20 days in Lake Park, a second attempt was made to set up camp on the Common. At a General Assembly earlier that day, Worcester Mayor Joe O’Brien had warned Occupy Worcester that this would not be allowed. 17 were arrested for this, and two more were arrested in the general confusion. Spectators marched to the police station where the arrestees were being held, and three more were arrested on the way.

On November 10, there was a Marry a Corporation Day satirical protest at City Hall. When police broke up this event, people entered City Hall to speak with the Mayor and City Manager. Police then threatened them with arrest if they did not leave the building.

The Lake Park camp had a camping permit, and as the permit was due to expire, an occupation was begun in Lincoln Square on November 13. Since the police initially discouraged sleeping, this had the character of a round-the-clock vigil. Eventually, the Worcester Area Missionary Society let the group camp in their adjacent parking lot.

At the November 22 Worcester City Council meeting, the Council discussed Occupy Worcester. OW was concerned with the contradictory instructions police were giving them about the Lincoln Square occupation, the Marry a Corporation arrest threat, and the huge police presence that seemed to hover around every OW event, including this Council meeting. The Council had previously indicated they wanted to deal with these concerns, but at this meeting, Councilors Lukes and Haller asked the City Council to go on record supporting the city administration’s handling of things, and the Council voted 9-2 in favor.

Meanwhile, the Missionary Society had rented space in their Lincoln Square building to some tenants, and asked Occupy Worcester to vacate the parking lot for the tenants to use. They vacated the lot in early December.

This was not the end of Occupy Worcester. The group continued to meet into the summer, but they shifted focus to supporting other occupations in New England, and to more conventional modes of activism, for example the February 3 anti-NDAA protest that drew in more conservative activists from the libertarian/Ron Paul side of things.

Timeline

  • October 2, 2011: We have a public “mic check” at Cooks Pond for the 508 show and claim to have started Occupy Worcester. Actual organizing meetings happen a little later that week.
  • October 8: First Occupy Worcester event on the Common. Organized outside the group having meetings.
  • October 9: First General Assembly on the Common.
  • October 10: Second General Assembly on the Common.
  • October 15: Solidarity march.
  • October 16: Lake Park occupation.
  • October 17: Morning at Lake Park, day #1.
  • October 18: Downtown march, another GA, podcast from Lake Park.
  • October 20: Another podcast from Lake Park.
  • October 28: Lots of rain, Occupy Worcester meets with Occupy Clark.
  • November 5: Mayor O’Brien addresses the GA. Attempted occupation of the Common, arrests.
  • November 10: Marry a Corporation Day at City Hall.
  • November 13: Occupation moves to Lincoln Square.
  • November 14: Lincoln Square day #1.
  • November 15: Lincoln Square day #2, weekly antiwar vigil at Lincoln Square.
  • November 16: Lincoln Square day #3.
  • November 20: One week in Lincoln Square.
  • November 22: Worcester City Council meeting about Occupy Worcester.
  • November 27: Lincoln Square week 2.
  • November 28: Lincoln Square day 15.
  • November 30: Lincoln Square. Day 17
  • February 3, 2012: NDAA protest at federal building.

Corrections: Lake Park doesn’t have any campgrounds, just picnic areas. Added mention of Occupy Clark. Revising the final paragraph. Clarified the City Council’s response to OW.

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